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Review by: Jim Richmond
Published: December 24, 2003
It’s a good thing you’re around. The universe just wouldn’t be as safe without you. Just think of all the times you’ve saved humanity from hordes of aliens bent on its destruction. From the time that Space Invaders tried to crush your three puny green block defenses to every encounter with the mighty Empire from “Star Wars” fame, you’ve been there to push back the overwhelming offensive. Now developer Egosoft is calling out for recruits to defend X-Space in the sequel to 2000′s X: Beyond the Frontier, X2: The Threat. Let’s see if you should turn up your hyperdrive or wait for the next attack.
You take on the role of Julian Gordna, and as X2 opens, you see a clip from your past as an ignoble pirate as you and your partner try to steal a spaceship from its dock. A chase ensues, and despite being a talented pilot, you’re captured shortly after they get your buddy. You’re sentenced to serve hard time for your offenses against society, but on the way to your stint in some cold corner of space, you’re released into the custody of the TerraCorp conglomerate and put to work as a pilot. Soon, though, the reasons for your release as well as your destiny reveal themselves. I won’t spoil any of the big turns, but saving the universe comes into play as does the whereabouts of your missing father, whom you presumed to be dead (the stress of which drove you to a life of crime in the first place).
X2 is one part X-Wing and one part tycoon game. Your main vantage point is out the cockpit of one of several craft, but much of your time is spent finding the lowest price for a good and selling it or setting up manufacturing. There’s equal challenge in each of these aspects and specific things you must do in order to be successful at both fighting and finance. The varied activities provided also help ensure that you can always choose another path if you get tired of following the one you’re on, whether it be pirate or policeman, merchant or manufacturer.
Apart from the cockpit view, almost every task is performed by using the game’s menu system. Equipping weapons, setting up trade routes, getting messages, viewing space charts, and accessing in-game help are all done by navigating through the sections of the menu to issue the appropriate order. Shortcut keys are provided to help simplify navigation, and memorizing combinations of keystrokes help trigger tasks.
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